SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 28, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Dhamar University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Yemen

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 28, 2020, Houthi militia forces reportedly detained at least twenty students from Dhamar University for undisclosed reasons.

There are few details regarding the detentions as of this report. Available sources indicate that Houthi soldiers had kidnapped the students, whose identities are unknown, on the evening of April 28 and took them to an undisclosed location. At the time of their disappearance, news sources were reporting an uptick in detentions and kidnappings by Houthi militants.

Since the Yemeni civil war began in 2015, Houthi militias have occupied a growing share of educational institutions, from primary schools to university, in the northwestern areas of Yemen that are under their control. This takeover has been marked by the armed occupation of educational facilities, armed conflict that has threatened university personnel and students, arrests of students and academics, the dismissal and replacement of teaching and leadership personnel with those favored by the militia, and the implementation of Houthi-approved curricula and educational materials.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the arbitrary detention of students by non-state militants. All parties to a conflict must refrain from the detention and disappearance of non-combatants, including members of higher education communities. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such attacks undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.